Reaction Paper #3: New Literacies

This week’s readings were the first chapter of A New Literacies Sampler (2007), edited by Lankshear and Knobel (whole thing is available as a pdf), and a program report from The Campaign for Grade-Level reading called “Pioneering Literacy.”

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading begins their report on “Pioneering Literacy” with a focus on the importance of the environment and parent-child interactions in teaching reading. I like that they make the distinction between the presence of devices and how the technology is used, though I am often skeptical of reported hours of screen time and what is really meant by “60% of white and hispanic preschoolers … have played video games on a console.” There are a lot of value judgements going on in reporting their statistics, and readers will interpret the numbers as good or bad depending on their own personal bias.

Where I think the Campaign goes astray is that by using an old model of “bookspace” and literacy, they limit both the success of kids and limit the use of an iPad. The first point about “bookspace” points to their desire to find authoritative products or programs that will deliver literacy skills in a textual order that is recognizable to their schema for teaching literacy. The key line from Lankshear and Knobel is that “to bring a model of value that ‘belongs’ to a different kind of space is inappropriate and creates an impediment to actualizing the new space.” In other words, it doesn’t make sense to look to iPad apps and websites to reflect traditional approaches to literacy, and by doing so, it limits what that technology might actually be able to teach. For example, an app that does not explicitly teach reading comprehension as traditionally understood may do very well with new literacies, such as recognizing and adapting interaction based on the context, of which reading and understanding is a part. Further, if we look at the Discourse for being a student in school, language is certainly a part of that coordination, but focusing on that alone may not result in the Campaign’s goal for grade-level reading because there are other factors preventing children from marginalized groups from stretching to a secondary Discourse.

This report reminds me of the early reports on climate change that were trying to convince people that it was a real thing while scientists had already established consensus among themselves long ago. The Campaign may serve a valuable role in helping raise awareness by encouraging intentional use of media by families and educators, but I think they need to reconsider their own understanding of New Media and the “cyberspatial-postindustrial” world to help programs update their mindset, rather than just helping them “technologize.”

Devices everywhere!

Today I found myself using three devices to work on one presentation: my MacBook Air, iPad, and iPhone. All. At. Once.

There will be a forthcoming post on reflecting about the process leading up my first presentation, but this is a step in that process.

I’ve decided to use Prezi as my presentation tool because I prefer the visual layout. As someone who needs the overall picture to understand the details, it helps me have a stage where everything is laid out and then zoom in to each element. But this isn’t a post about Prezi, it’s about multi-devicing.

So I found the Prezi app for iPhone and iPad and decided to explore. I found that while I don’t really like editing on them, using them to present is really helpful. Since we have Apple TVs in a few classrooms, I can actually connect to projectors with my iPhone to practice giving my presentation, which I did today with two colleagues. The interface on the phone is quite good and I was able to go straight to certain frames when I wanted and I was able to control the video playback. If I were actually using it for a formal presentation I would lock the orientation so that it doesn’t flip back in forth as I gesture.

But the true multi-devicing came today when I was working on typing out my presentation. I wanted to go from the presentation to a full write up in order to refine my explanations, especially about games, which I posted here. I set up with my iPad on the presentation and my laptop open to type in Pages. It was incredibly helpful to have the iPad presentation separate from my laptop screen. I thought immediately about this article that I read about The Avenues, a for-profit high school in New York that issues it’s students both a laptop AND an iPad because they are used differently for different purposes, they do different things and engage different skills.

Since we are currently exploring what device makes the most for our program, whether that means a combination of a couple devices or something other than a laptop, it was interesting to find myself in the shoes of a student using all three devices differently to work on one presentation.

What do you think about students having more than one device? Do you know of a program out there that has done this?